What It Is and What It Protects Against
The varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox (characterized by fever and itchy rash on the body). There is still a slight chance of developing the chickenpox, even after being vaccinated. The CDC reports that 15 to 20 percent of people who receive one dose of the chickenpox vaccine get the disease a second time, though typically a milder case. However, the CDC also states that children who got the recommended two doses of the vaccine “were three times less likely to get chickenpox than individuals who have had only one dose.”
(This is not clear – show evidence to whom? Schools? This is not generally a requirement for schools.)Otherwise, the chickenpox vaccine is recommended for all healthy children, adolescents, and adults who cannot show immunity to the disease. For children, the first dose should be given at one year to 15 months; the second is recommended between 4 and 6 years old. It is recommended to avoid use of aspirin products for 6 weeks following the chickenpox vaccination.
Adults over the age of 13 who never received the vaccine or had the chickenpox disease are recommended to get two doses, 28 days apart.
Who Should Not Get It
People who should not receive the chickenpox vaccine include anyone who exhibits the following:
- severe allergic reaction to gelatin or past doses of the chickenpox vaccine
- moderate-to-serious illness; it is recommended to wait until recovery before getting vaccinated
- inability to fight infection due to cancer or cancer treatment
- immune diseases that lessen the ability to fight infection
- use of steroids or drugs that affect ability to fight infection
- family history of immunodeficiency
- recent blood transfusion or blood products
- pregnant women are advised to wait until after giving birth; for women who wish to become pregnant, it is recommended to wait one month after receiving the chickenpox vaccine to become pregnant
Potential Side Effects
Though the risk of serious harm from the
chickenpox vaccine is small compared with the actual untreated disease itself,
the vaccine does hold some risk, from mild to severe side effects.
Mild side effects include:
- soreness or swelling where the shot was given
- mild rash
Moderate to severe side effects include: